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Get closer with a close-up filter

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Mason Resnick is the editor of the Adorama Learning Center and a lifetime photography enthusiast.

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Get closer with a close-up filter

Things to put in front of your lens

A filter that can transform your photographs


Close-up filters, which you can buy from Adorama, typically cost under $50 and turns your standard lens into a super close-up lens. In some cases, depending on the existing lens’s focusing range and focal length, the right close-up filter can produce real 1:1 macro images!
 
Typical close-up lenses come in different magnifications (or strengths), and some come in sets of two or three filters.  Strengths range from 1 to 4, and filters can be stacked together for even more magnification (although you don’t want to put more than two on at a time because this could end up magnifying imperfections).

In addition to the lower price, one advantage of a close-up filter over a macro lens is that as you get closer to your subject, the amount of light admitted into the camera remains constant. A macro lens puts greater distance between rear lens element and the surface of the film or sensor—which means less light and longer exposures.

The disadvantage of a close-up filter is that it may not be as sharp as a macro lens. Spend a few dollars more for a better brand (camera manufacturer-made filters will offer better optical matches to the lenses you’re using). The price difference is not that great, but the difference in quality will be noticeable.

 

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